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Simona Halep vs Ashleigh Barty WTA Montreal Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Halep and Barty meet for the first time as they battle for a spot in the Montreal final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 11 Aug 2018
  • Simona Halep vs Ashleigh Barty is live from Montreal on Saturday, 11 August from 1:00pm local time/ 6:00pm BST
  • First ever meeting between Halep and Barty
Simona Halep. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

World number one, Simona Halep continues her bid for a second Rogers Cup title on Saturday when she takes on Australian, Ashleigh Barty in the semi-finals in Montreal.

Halep is into the last four for the fourth straight year, having won the title in 2016, finished runner-up in 2015, and made the semi-finals last season. The Romanian has now reached at least the semi-finals in seven of her 11 WTA Tournaments in 2018, winning titles in Shenzhen and Roland Garros, as she continues to strengthen her hold on the World No. 1 ranking.

Halep is playing her first tournament since a shock third-round loss to Su-Wei Hsieh at Wimbledon, where she blew a 5-2 final-set advantage, and missed a match point in a surprisingly wasteful effort. The French Open champion did not begin her Rogers Cup campaign until Thursday, no thanks to the persistent Montreal rain, and was forced into double-duty when she eventually got started, scoring contrasting wins over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Venus Williams to get into the quarter finals.

The Romanian was pushed to the limit by Pavlyuchenkova in her tournament opener, needing over three hours to dig out a 7-6 4-6 7-5 victory, but she had no such problems against Williams, outclassing the American 6-2 6-2 in just over an hour.

Tasked with taking down Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia in a Rogers Cup quarter final for the second straight year, Halep overcame a tight opening to pull away from the sixth seed, emerging with a 7-5 6-1 victory. After an early exchange of breaks, Garcia and Halep held serve until the ninth game (with Garcia leading 5-4), but Halep tightened the screws, stepping up the aggression while refusing to miss at the same time. The Romanian, who struck 19 winners as against 12 unforced errors, reeled off the last three games of the set to take the opener, and ran away with the match from there, winning nine of the final ten games to put away her broken opponent.

"[At] 5-5, I said, 'Now is the time to stay for every point and put pressure on her,'" Halep said. "I think I did pretty well. After I won that set, it was much easier mentally for me."

"The first set was really tough…. I just didn't give up at all in the first set. After I took it, I felt more confident. I felt that I'm moving better, I'm playing better, stronger. [Garcia] went a little bit down with energy after she lost that set."

Standing between the world number one and a third Rogers Cup final is Australian No. 1, Ashleigh Barty, who took out Kiki Bertens in the quarter finals to reach the Rogers Cup final four for the first time, in just her second appearance at the tournament. Barty made the third round in her Rogers Cup debut in Toronto last year.

Barty has become a solid top-20 player- she has spent just one week outside that bracket in the entire season, and will be contesting her fourth semi-final of the season on Saturday. 

Ashleigh Barty. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
The 22-year-old is seeking her third final of the year, having finished runner-up in Sydney, and won the Nottingham title in June. Her other semi-final was in Strasbourg, where she retired against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Barty was taken to three sets in her Rogers Cup opener against Irina-Camelia Begu, recovering from a second set blow-out, and a break down in the final set to squeeze out a 6-3 1-6 7-5 victory on her fifth match point. She is yet to drop a set since then, but needed first-set tie-breaks against Alison Van Uytvanck and Alize Cornet, winning 7-6 6-2 and 7-6 6-4 respectively. Barty had her most convincing win in the tournament in the last eight, dropping just four games in a surprisingly comfortable dispatch of Bertens. The Dutchwoman had been in scintillating form all week, taking down top-ten stars, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, but her fine run was terminated by the brilliant Barty in under an hour on Friday.

The early goings suggested a tight contest, but Barty accelerated away from 3-3, winning nine of the next ten games to take the win that puts her into her second Premier level semi-final- her first was in Wuhan last year, when she stormed to the final before falling to Caroline Garcia.

Saturday’s semi-final is a first encounter between Barty and Halep, with Barty looking to score her fifth win over a top-ten player, and her first of the season. 

"Tomorrow I'm going to go on court and I will try to give my best," Halep said. "I have nothing to lose. It's a semifinal. So I'll just go there and I try to play."

"I never played against [Barty], so I don't really know what to expect," said Halep.

I’m not sure Halep really meant that- she surely must have seen enough of Barty to have an idea of what to expect! Anyway, what she will get is some good serving and forehands, backed up by a biting backhand slice. As dangerous as Barty is, I think Halep has got most of her bases covered here- she is a terrific mover/defender, and has got lovely feel off the backhand wing. The Romanian sometimes drifts into a passive mode, but when she takes the game to the opposition, she has got a fine offence as well. The world number one possesses a superb record at the Rogers Cup- expect her to take down Barty and advance to yet another final on Saturday.

Simona Halep vs Ashleigh Barty is live from Montreal on Saturday, 11 August from 1:00pm local time/ 6:00pm BST

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Simona Halep vs Ashleigh Barty WTA Montreal Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Halep and Barty meet for the first time as they battle for a spot in the Montreal final

Simona Halep and Ashleigh Barty go head-to-head in the Rogers Cup semi-finals in Saturday. Can Halep move into a third final? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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